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SPN Fic: Parental Instincts (Gen, PG, spn_flashback) - Bloodslave for Cookies — LiveJournal
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dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Sat, Aug. 5th, 2006 06:28 pm
SPN Fic: Parental Instincts (Gen, PG, spn_flashback)


Title: Parental Instincts
Author: dodger_winslow
Challenge: spn_flashback Back to School
Genre: Gen
Rating: PG (language)
Pairing (if any): None
Disclaimer: I don't own the boys, I'm just stalking them for a while.
Prompt: #61: Parent's Day for Sam or Dean in elementary school and John actually shows up.

Author's Note: From the tone of the original prompt, I have to assume the person who submitted it expected a little bit different story than the one I wrote. So, you know, fair warning: I love John.





Parental Instincts

Whatever – whoever – she was expecting John Winchester to be, this man wasn’t it – him. She watched him interacting with his son, watched as they walked around the room together, exploring each aspect of Dean’s school life in evident minute detail.

Dean spent almost ten minutes just telling him about a drawing he did that was pinned to the wall. It was a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and he went into great detail not only about the drawing, but about what dinosaurs ate, and how long ago they lived, and whether or not T-Rex was a predator or a scavenger, which he thought was ridiculous, because obviously, if you look at the teeth, it had to be a predator. And not a bird either because, as Dean explained it, no feathers, no beak, no bird.

His father listened to every word, asked a number of questions, smiled repeatedly, and at one point, even reached out to touch Dean’s face in a way that made her think he might be a candidate for the best father she’d seen yet tonight.

This was so not what she expected.

From the moment they showed up, she thought maybe Dean had brought someone with him who wasn’t actually his father. Or maybe more accurately, someone who wasn’t Dean brought someone with him who wasn’t Dean’s father.

Though Dean Winchester had been her student for more than three months now, she didn’t recognize this child talking dinosaurs with a man who listened as if whatever was being said was something he’d never heard before in his life. Although still quiet and less animated than any second grader had a right to be, Dean was interacting with his father, talking more in the first five minutes they were in her room than he’d spoken all year long to date. There was a sense of anticipation to him she’d never seen before, a sense he was engaged with his world tonight rather than simply a hollowed out shell of a boy sitting in a classroom because someone put him there, absorbing everything and getting nothing.

As much as Dean was quiet, his little brother wasn’t. He was a pistol. He was everywhere, into everything, eyes bright, huge smile and a chatter that just wouldn’t quit. Though Dean’s father called him back to them several times with a single word, spoken quietly; the little boy was off again the moment his father’s attention returned to Dean.

For such an active child, he was very well behaved. His level of interest was unfathomable, and she didn’t think there was a single adult in the room he hadn’t spoken to at least once, but he was very careful about touching things, and for the most part, didn’t, rather just looking – no peering – at them with animated interest, hovering around them, circling, examining everything he saw from every conceivable angle.

How he could possibly be related to Dean Winchester was a greater mystery to her than how the universe came to be.

"I’m going to be in school next year," Dean’s brother announced from the vicinity of her left knee, startling her out of her thoughts, out of her watchful surveillance of his father and older brother across the room.

"You are?" she asked, crouching down to speak to him on his own level.

He nodded enthusiastically. "Maybe you’ll be my teacher. I’m Sammy. I’m Dean’s brother. That’s Dean." He pointed across the room at his brother. He seemed inordinately proud to be able to lay claim to his position in Dean’s life, and that obvious pride made her smile.

The whole time he’d been her student, his little brother was the only thing Dean had ever actually spoken about voluntarily. He hadn’t told her much, but he’d said a couple of things about him, which was a couple more things than he’d said about anything else in his life.

She remembered how agitated Dean had been the only day he’d yet broken from his consistent pattern of silent observation. He spent the entire morning session fidgeting in his chair, watching the clock, looking for all the world like a second grader who had better places to be than school. In other words, like a real second grader rather than a Stepford second grader.

When they broke for recess, she asked him if everything was okay, and he’d looked at her with eyes she’d never seen in a child before: the eyes of an old man, broken by life and terrified of what it had in store for him next.

"My little brother’s sick," he confided in her, his voice shaking a little as he spoke. "Can I go home and be with him?"

She thought that was sweet of him, to want to stay with his little brother. Or perhaps very smart of him, to think saying as much would get him out of a day at school.

She hadn’t known Dean very well then.

"Isn’t your mommy home with him?" she asked.

Those old eyes filled with tears that never fell. "No."

The intensity of his distress distressed her. "Well, what about your daddy?"

"Yes. He’s there. But I should be there, too. Sammy needs me. I’m supposed to take care of him. Can I go home and take care of him?"

The way he asked made her want to hug him, but she didn’t because school policy strictly prohibited the hugging of small children who looked like they were about to shatter into a million small pieces. What a crock of shit. But still, her crock of shit, so she had to play by the rules if she wanted to keep playing the game at all.

"I’m sure he’ll be okay, Dean," she’d said instead. "And I think it might help your daddy if you were here instead of home. Then way he can concentrate all his attention on looking after Sammy."

He looked at her like she slapped him. "I take care of Sammy," he said. "That’s my job."

"But it’s your daddy’s job, too, right?"

"You think he can take care of Sammy better if I’m not there?"

She smiled at him. "Yes, I do, Dean. I think it would help your daddy if you stayed here today and let him take care of Sammy this time."

Dean just looked at her. His eyes were swimming with tears by that point, but he didn’t let any of them fall. When one tried, he wiped it away angrily with the back of one hand. "Okay," he said finally. And then he went back to his seat and stayed there, never going outside for recess, eating nothing for lunch, not speaking again at all that day and looking nowhere but at his desk until the final bell rang.

That had been nearly two weeks ago, but it was still bothering her. She felt like she’d let him down somehow. She didn’t know how, but she felt like she did.

Crouched down to talk to his little brother, looking into the animated life sparkling in this child’s eyes, she understood a little better why Dean had been so distressed. When this one was sick, it must be such a dramatic change, like the difference between thunder and silence, between color and darkness, between life and death.

"Maybe I will," she said, smiling at Sammy. "But you know I’m a second grade teacher, right? So you’d probably have Mrs. Bengalton or Mr. Cobert first. They’re the kindergarten teachers here. Have you met either one of them yet?"

Sammy shook his head. "Dean says kindergarten is for babies. He helps me do his homework and says I’m smarter than everybody in his class. He says he thinks I could start out in third grade if I wanted to."

"He does, does he?"

Sammy beamed at her. It was a smile that could kill a woman, it was that purely sweet. "And Dean knows," he told her seriously. "Dean knows everything. Except for the stuff Dad knows. Sometimes he doesn’t know that, but he learns it quicker than anybody, even Dad says so. Because Dean’s smart, too. Smarter than me, even; but he’s older, too, so that’s okay."

"Sam."

John Winchester’s quiet call reached them easily from all the way across the room. Sammy responded to it instantly. "I’ve got to go," he said. "That’s my dad." He pointed across the room. "He says this isn’t about me. He says this is Dean’s night, so I should try and not talk to everybody so much. But don’t tell Dean he said that, okay?"

"Okay," she agreed. "I won’t."

"Good. Cause it makes Dean mad when Dad says it isn’t about me. Dean says it is about me. He says everything is about me."

"Sam." The call was more insistent this time. Not louder, just more demanding in tone.

"I really have to go," Sammy said. "Bye." And then he was gone.

She watched him fly across the room to his father’s side. John Winchester was watching her as she pushed back to a stand. Their eyes met for the briefest of moments. He offered a small smile, but it wasn’t an expression that reached his eyes. She smiled back, and he returned his attentions to Dean.

It took them another fifteen minutes to work the rest of the way around the room to the final stop in the classroom: her desk. In the mean time, a couple dozen sets of parents and children had come and gone; quick flybys of inattention more the sort to which she was accustomed: Hi, I’m so-and-so’s mommy or daddy, so good to meet you, you’re doing a great job, keep up the good work, I’ll see you the next time my kid drags me to parent-teacher night like there is anything at all here I could possibly care about one way or the other.

"Hello, Dean," she said, greeting her student first as she always did.

"Hi, Mrs. Jessup," Dean returned. "This is my dad."

"John," he said, taking the hand she extended in greeting. "It’s good to meet you. Dean talks about you a lot."

"Really?" She smiled at Dean, but he wouldn’t meet her eyes. "Well Dean’s one of my favorite students." And this time, she wasn’t lying. "And we’re working on that talks a lot thing, aren’t we Dean? Just chatter, chatter, chatter. I can hardly get a word in edgewise."

Dean ducked his head, embarrassed. "She’s kidding, Dad," he said.

"Huh. I won’t have guessed."

"And this is my brother, Sammy," Dean added.

"Hello, Mrs. Jessup," Sammy said very formally as if he’d never seen her before in his whole life. "It’s very nice to meet you."

She took his cue to mean he wasn’t supposed to be talking to her until Dean had a chance to introduce them, so she responded in kind: "It’s very nice to meet you, too, Sammy. I’ve heard a lot about you from Dean."

Sammy brightened like a lightbulb. "You have?"

"I told her you were a geek," Dean said quietly.

Sammy deflated again. "Oh."

Dean elbowed him lightly. Sammy looked at his brother, then grinned, saying again, "Oh. Yeah, I’m kind of a geek. But Dean’s a –"

"Enough," John said to his boys. Then to her, he said, "So I hear you’re studying dinosaurs in science."

"Yes, we are. Dean’s very good at science. I’m amazed at how much he knows about animals in particular."

"He’s a quick study," John said. Standing beside him, Dean positively glowed at his father’s praise. "I’d like to talk to you for a moment, if I could?"

She looked around the classroom. There were no other parents or students, and it was getting late enough she was pretty sure she’d seen everybody who was coming. "Sure. I’d like to talk to you, too."

"Did I do something wrong?" Dean asked. He was speaking to her, not his father.

"Not at all, Dean. In fact, I want to sing your praises to your father, I just don’t want your head to get so big from hearing all the nice things I have to say that it can’t fit through the door any more."

He smiled at that, ducked his head again. "Oh."

"Why don’t you take Sam for a walk, son?" John asked. "Far enough away to give me and Mrs. Jessup some privacy, close enough so I can hear if you need me."

"Yes, sir," Dean said. "Come on, Sammy." He took his brother’s hand to lead him from the room.

"Bye, Mrs. Jessup." Sammy called over his shoulder.

"I’ll see you in a little while, Sammy," she returned.

When they were gone, John didn’t waste much time with niceties; he got straight to the point. "I apologize that I haven’t been in to see you earlier," he said by way of a preamble. "I usually try to speak to Dean’s teachers before the school year starts, but I’ve been a little carried away with work the last several months, and I let it distract me. Not much of an excuse, but still, the way it sometimes goes."

She smiled to indicate she understood and wouldn’t hold it against him. Although in truth, she always did hold it against them. Between work and children, children should always come first; yet for men, work usually did; and increasingly so, for women as well. There were days the mass extinction of the simple God-granted gift of parental instincts was enough to make teaching much more of a job than she’d ever thought it would be.

"Dean told me what you said to him the day Sammy was home sick," John informed her. "I didn’t come in then because I felt a little distance would help me communicate more effectively, and I knew this was coming up, so I decided this might be a better context for our conversation."

He was angry. She could tell it by the way his voice was so careful on his words. "All right," was all she said. Better to reserve her statements until she knew more, she decided. There was less risk of compounding the situation that way.

And beyond that, he didn’t really look like he was going to give her the opportunity to say much until he’d finished what he wanted to tell her.

"First, let me say I realize you can’t read minds, and you don’t have all the details of Dean’s past, so there’s no way you could be expected to realize what you were saying was wrong."

Wrong. Well that was a good way to start out an effective conversation. He must have seen that in her eyes, because he adjusted what he was saying almost in mid-sentence.

"Or maybe a better word would be destructive."

Destructive. Oh, much better word than wrong. She was destructive now, although certainly not her fault because she couldn’t be expected to read minds. She smiled in an effort to stave off the response she could already feel stirring inside her.

Again, he must have seen it.

Because he frowned, saying, "I’m sorry. I’m not saying this very well. I’m not trying to be confrontational. I can tell by the way Dean talks about you that you were probably trying to help him, trying to make him feel better. But …" he hesitated then, and for the first time, she realized he was actually quite out of his depth.

He read her easily and accurately – something that couldn’t be said about most parents looking to lodge this complaint or another about choices she made in the classroom. For the most part, they tended to be so focused on their own issue they didn’t even remember she was part of the conversation, falling quickly from the pretext of a conversation into a lecture about how she could enhance the individual learning experience of their child by doing this or that, as if there were no other children to be considered in her choices. She always listened, and she always considered, but far more often than not, their issues with her teaching were the same issues they had with her participating with the conversation: If it wasn’t all about them or their child, she wasn’t doing it right.

As a matter of policy, she smiled politely, assured them she would keep their feedback in mind, and then proceeded to do whatever the hell she was already doing, because her world wasn’t about catering to one child, it was about teaching an entire classroom of children in the manner most conducive to them all learning, and she’d been doing this long enough she was actually pretty good at it.

John’s problem, on the other hand, didn’t seem to be understanding that he wasn’t the only participant in the conversation; but rather that he wasn’t quite sure how to say what he wanted to say. She suspected he was normally a far more direct man, caring less about how what he said was perceived than that it was simply heard. But he was trying here … trying very hard to tell her something he felt was important in a way that wouldn’t alienate her to the detriment of his child.

She began to like him, even if he did start a conversation he didn’t want to be confrontational by telling her she was wrong.

"Mr. Winchester, can I interrupt you here?"

"John," he said again.

"John," she agreed. "I understand you’re trying to say this exactly the right way so whatever it is you’re concerned about won’t offend me, and I appreciate that. But would it make it a little easier if I told you I’m not particularly easy to offend, so you can feel free to say it however you want to say it without worrying that the wrong word will make your son’s teacher angry at him instead of you?"

He smiled slowly, relaxing visibly in the way he was standing. "I see why Dean likes you," he said after a beat. "And yes, that would make it much easier. My son is in a unique position. He’s lost far more than any child should ever lose, and pretty much the sum total of what he’s got left is Sammy. So telling him anything concerning Sammy can be done better without his participation is … it isn’t something I can afford to have him told. He’s very vulnerable there. He needs to feel like Sammy needs him. He needs to not be told that isn’t true."

"He told me Sammy is his job," she said.

"That’s because that’s what I told him. That Sammy is his job. His responsibility."

She scratched at the side of her face, trying to figure out exactly what words would be best used to tell him what a fucked up thing that was to tell a seven year old child.

"The excellent thing about me, you’ll find," he said, "is that I’m almost impossible to offend. If you’ll just tell me what you’re thinking right now, I think we can find some common ground here."

She laughed a little, appreciating his grace in the challenging dynamics of the situation when it came to balancing diplomacy with truth. "I’m thinking that isn’t a very good thing to tell a child," she allowed cautiously. "Without criticizing your choices as a parent – I was watching you with Dean earlier … I’ve never seen him so engaged, so willing to interact with the world around him: It’s clear the two of you are very close, and that you handle him very effectively – I’d have to suggest that no child should bear the weight of responsibility for another child. It’s too much for them at this age. They can’t stand up to that kind of pressure, and they shouldn’t be asked to."

John looked down at his hands, something she was almost certain he did to keep her from seeing his eyes. For a long moment, he didn’t say anything. When he did speak, it was very quietly.

"Are you aware that Dean didn’t speak for almost a year after his mother was murdered?"

She froze, unsure she’d just heard what she was sure she just heard. "Excuse me?" she said after a beat.

He looked up then, studied her. "Were you aware his mother was murdered?"

"No. I wasn’t aware of that." She turned away from him, taking a moment to restructure her thoughts. Three months worth of inexplicable Dean behaviors suddenly began to make sense. "I’m sorry," she said after moment, turning back to find him still watching her. "That isn’t in his file, so no, I wasn’t aware of it."

"I’ve kept it out of his file because I don’t want him judged by it. Defined by it."

That made her angry. "Withholding information like that makes it very difficult for me to do my job, Mr. Winchester," she said a little more sharply than she intended to. "Very difficult for any of his teachers to do their jobs. Knowing Dean has suffered this kind of trauma makes all the difference in the world in how I work with him. You have no idea how much –" She cut herself off, bit her words back with an effort. "I’m sorry," she said, starting again. "I’m sure you do have an idea how much that kind of thing affects a child. I’m just a little thrown by this. You’ve caught me very much unawares."

"I know my son very well, Mrs. Jessup," he said quietly. "I’ve spent a large part of the last three years trying to find him again in the shell Mary’s murder made of him. The only thing that has worked, the only thing that gives him what he needs to survive is some sense of purpose. Some sense that he’s needed. Sammy gives him that. I figured that out very early. He took over much of Sammy’s care when it first happened. When I wasn’t much use to either of them; when I was letting myself grieve at their expense. During that time, Dean stepped up to the plate and took care of his little brother. And he took care of me. It became his reason for living: because we needed him too much for him to do anything else."

"When I found my feet again," John went on. "I realized how much weight he’d taken on, and I tried to take it back from him. I tried to take back the responsibility for myself, and for Sammy. For our lives. For his life. And I almost lost him. It was like losing his mother all over again for him. Like everything that made his world sane was just snatched away for no reason he could fathom. He went into a tailspin. He quit talking all together rather than simply refusing to talk to anyone who wasn’t me or Sammy. He drew so far inside himself you couldn’t even see him any more. He didn’t respond to anything: not to me, not to Sammy, not to the doctors, not to pain, not to drugs … nothing. He was just gone."

"So I gave him Sammy back. I’m sure you wouldn’t approve of how I did it – not many people would – but I couldn’t think of any other way to reach him. My son was drowning, and I couldn’t just sit there and watch him go under. He needed something to hold on to, so I gave him Sammy.

"The night Mary was murdered, our house burned down while I was trying to reach her. I gave Sammy to Dean and made him go outside. He rescued Sammy from the fire that night, and that’s what defined him for months afterwards. It was the only thing that seemed to matter to him: that he’d saved Sammy.

"So I used that to bring him back. I made him save Sammy again; but from me, this time. From what I wasn’t doing for Sammy that Sammy needed. Seeing Sammy need him was the only thing that kept Dean from disappearing. It saved him, Mrs. Jessup. Which is why I can’t afford for Dean to be told it isn’t true."

Her mind was whirling at a million miles a minute. "I don’t know what to say here, Mister Winchester," she admitted finally. Because truthfully? She had no idea what to say.

"John," he reminded her.

"All right. John. But I still don’t know what to say."

"I don’t really expect you to say anything, if that helps," he offered. "But what I do need is for you to promise me Dean won’t ever be told anything that makes him think Sammy doesn’t need him. Whether you agree with my choices or not, I need them to be supported. Which is why I came tonight. To tell you that." He smiled slightly. "And to see the T-Rex Dean drew. He was very adamant that I needed to see that. Something about you putting it on the wall, I think."

"Of course I’ll support your choices, Mis … John," She said. Then she added, just a little pointedly, "Now that I know what they are."

He smiled, accepting the censure without defense.

"But you’re right in thinking I don’t approve of your methods." She paused for a moment, considering how candidly she could speak to this man who was nothing at all like the man she expected to meet. "I know these are extreme circumstances, and that you’re the one ultimately dealing with them, but I’m afraid your solutions are … non-traditional enough to give me some serious concerns."

"I think the word you’re looking for is short-sighted," he said.

She had to laugh a little at that because short-sighted was exactly the word she’d started to use, then chosen not to, offering non-traditional to him instead.

"And I’m aware of that," John admitted. "I’m already seeing things in Dean that I’d rather not see. And I’m afraid they’re only going to get worse farther down the road. But the simple truth is this: My son was dying, and I couldn’t let that happen. I had to do something, and this is what worked. So this is what we do for now. No matter what it takes. No matter what it costs later. We do it because right now, it’s what we need to do."

"Teaching a child to define himself only in terms of someone else is a dangerous road to chose," she warned.

"But at least he’s on a road," John returned. "I’m afraid that may be all I can do for him right now."

"Absolutely not," she disagreed firmly. "There are a number of things you can do for him right now; and based on the Dean I see now as compared to the one you describe him as being then, I think you must be doing most of them. I may have mentioned Dean is much more interactive tonight than I’ve ever seen him. What I may not have mentioned is how much more."

"To be quite frank, I almost didn’t recognize the child showing you every aspect of this classroom tonight," she went on. "Pointing out and explaining to you things I didn’t realize he’d ever even noticed, let alone found interesting enough to share in such detail. He’s so fragile here, when he’s away from you. But he isn’t fragile tonight. Standing there beside you, he’s a child I’ve never seen. He has a balance to him, even if it is a quiet balance. A sense of strength I’ve never seen in any child, let alone your child. But most importantly, he seemed to be proud of himself. Proud to be who he is."

She studied John for a moment. "I’ve never seen that in him before," she said finally. "That’s been my greatest fear for Dean. That wherever he was, buried so deep inside himself, he was there because someone taught him he wasn’t worth anything. Because someone convinced him that every thought he had, that everything he might do, meant nothing. I hope I don’t offend you by saying this, but truthfully speaking, you’re a very different man than the one I expected to meet tonight, Mister Winchester. Very, very different."

"I love my sons," he said simply. "No matter what else happens, they know that. They always have, and they always will."

"That’s the most important thing any father can offer," she said.

"Sometimes it’s all I can offer," John said quietly. "But I don’t doubt they understand it. If I learned nothing else from Mary, I learned that: How important it is to know you’re loved."

"Mary was your wife?" she asked.

"Is my wife," John corrected quietly. "Always will be my wife."

She nodded. "Shall we call your sons back so Dean doesn’t convince himself I’ve told you all sorts of horrible things about him?"

John chuckled. "You do know him pretty well, don’t you?"

"I know him better now," she said.

"Isn’t that the whole point of parents night?" John asked.

"That’s the point of it," she agreed, "but you’d be surprised how many people don’t get that."

"I get it," John assured her. "And again, I apologize for not making the time to come in and talk to you sooner. Teachers can be … a bit intimidating for me. I wasn’t the best student in school, and most of my teachers seemed to be more interested in reminding me of that than in helping me overcome it."

She laughed. "I’m sure Dean will tell you the same thing about me one day. Children never understand why teachers do the things they do. But sometimes, if we’re lucky, the parents do."

"Don’t underestimate the way Dean sees you. I’ve never seen him crack a book before. Mary used to read to him, and he developed an aversion to everything that reminded him of her after … after she was gone. But he’s reading now. Reading to Sammy, the way Mary used to read to him. That’s part of the reason I wanted to meet you. That and to tell you to back off my kid when Sammy’s sick." She lifted an eyebrow at him, and he winked. "I learned that from Mary, too," he said.

"Flirting?" she asked.

"Being tactful," he corrected with a grin. "Saying ‘back off my kid,’ but saying it in a way that sounds more like ‘please don’t tell Dean Sammy doesn’t need him.’"

"She did a pretty good job with you," she said.

"Considering what she had to work with." Raising his voice a little – not enough to be a yell, but enough to carry a significant distance, the way an actor’s voice carries from the stage to the back row of the theater – he called, "Dean."

Within thirty seconds, Dean was standing in the doorway, his little brother in tow.

"You ready to hit it, son?" John asked.

Dean looked from his father, to her, and back to his father again. "Am I in trouble?" he asked.

"Should you be?" John countered.

Dean smiled a little. "No."

"Then probably not." John shifted his attention back to her. "It was a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Jessup. I promise not to tell Dean any of those horrible things you said about him."

She took the hand he extended. "I appreciate that, Mister Winchester. I prefer he think I like him rather than knowing what a horrible little kid I think he is."

"You like me," Dean said from the doorway.

She looked at him, arching her eyebrows. "Whatever would make you think that?"

He didn’t duck his head this time, didn’t look away from her like he wasn’t sure he should meet her eyes. "I’m Dean," he said, smiling in a way that reminded her very much of his father.

Sammy rolled his eyes expressively. John just shook his head. But she smiled back at him, letting him know, even though he already knew it, that he was very much exactly right. "Yes, you are," she said. "And you’re right. That is exactly why I like you."

He did duck his head then, looking away so she wouldn’t see him blush. Sammy snickered. John pretended not to notice.

"Okay," Dean said, talking to his shoes. "I’ll see you tomorrow,"

"Tomorrow’s Saturday," Sammy piped up.

Dean blushed harder. "Monday then," he said.

"I’ll see you Monday, Dean," she agreed. "In the mean time, you take care of Sammy and your father, won’t you?"

He looked up, a little startled.

"Oh, good Lord, you’ll give him a head the size of Montana," John said. He dropped one hand to Dean’s shoulder as he took Sammy’s hand with the other. "Let’s hit it, boys. I’m sure Mrs. Jessup has better things to do with her evening than flirt with Dean."

He winked at her as they left. Smiling, she listened to them bicker as they walked down the hall and out the side door. The topic of discussion was flirting, and the degree to which both Sammy and John were haranguing Dean about it gave her all the hope in the world that the quiet boy who sat in the third row and rarely spoke unless spoken to would be all right.

More than all right, in fact. If he was lucky, he might just grow up to be his dad.

-finis-




the rest of the trilogy ... 

My Hero, by Dean Winchester
A Warm Summer Rain

Tags: , , , , , ,

258CommentReply

tigriswolf
tigriswolf
questioning in order to create
Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006 12:02 am (UTC)

Oh, yes, I like the John you give us. And your LilDean is adorable, as is LilSam. Well done.


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dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006 05:04 am (UTC)

Thank ya much!


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zortified
Zortadon't
Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006 12:02 am (UTC)

Oh that was just wonderful and beautiful and I love it. I want to hug Dean and John and Sammy if he'll stand still long enough. I love seeing them like this.


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dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006 05:05 am (UTC)

Thanks so much. I've developed a real weakness for Sammy at this age. And Dean as an emotionally closed down school boy, evidently. Who knew? LOL


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embroiderama
embroiderama
a rearranger of the proverbial bookshelf
Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006 12:06 am (UTC)

I love this! I love that John knows there's major danger in giving Dean so much responsiblity for Sammy, but that he had to do that to save little Dean's sanity.

but he was very careful about touching things, and for the most part, didn’t, rather just looking – no peering – at them with animated interest, hovering around them, circling, examining everything he saw from every conceivable angle.

I thought this was a great detail--very believable for a child raised around so many things that would be dangerous to touch.


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dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006 05:09 am (UTC)

Thanks. :D

I've noticed my fanfic on John following awfully closely on the heels of the points I make when I'm meta-ing on him. One of my earliest stances on John (and one I still consider highly likely) was that his choices when it came to making Dean Sammy's keeper were more for Dean's sake than for Sammy's, and very much had to do with reclaiming Dean's psych from the trauma of his mother's murder and John's unique understanding of his son and what it would take to accomplish that.

I really didn't realize that is what this fic was about until John started telling me that, but it was very satisfying to find a fic forum for some of these points, as that had thus far eluded me in my quest to fic the true John, as I see him.

LOL @ not touching dangerous things. If only Jack could teach that to Daniel on SG-1. Maybe we should send JDM over to Stargate to teach lessons. Cause Shanks and Browder AND JDM on SG1 would make it a fantasy football league for me, only SFly speaking. (especially if JDM takes Jen along for the ride *lol*)


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wendy
wendy
I can read Sam's mind
Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006 12:15 am (UTC)

(It is very hard to find the comment link on this layout!)

I so, so love the characterizations in this! The chatty, friendly Sammy and the reserved-in-class, but excited-around-Dad-Dean are perfect. Love the reference to Dean flirting because, of course he is.

"I take care of Sammy," he said. "That’s my job."
LOVE that. Yes, yes, yes.

Cause it makes Dean mad when Dad says it isn’t about me. Dean says it is about me. He says everything is about me."
I think it's really interesting that 3 yo Sam is repeating this without even really knowing what he's saying. Especially since the reader knows that the SPN story really IS all about Sam.

"You like me," Dean said from the doorway. "I’m Dean," he said
Love that confidence...so indicative of who adult Dean turns out to be.

Awesome story!


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dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006 05:23 am (UTC)

Oooops. Sorry the comment link is hard to find. I don't know much about the programming stuff, so I just picked an LJ style and stuck to it.

I'm pleasedhe characterizations rang true for you. It sometimes worries me a bit that, as kids, I tend to see Sammy and Dean as flips of who they are as adults. Cause Sammy is so the more reserved polite one, while Dean is so the out there, gotta talk to everyone hambone. But for some reason, when they are kids, especially in the context of school, I see them as the flip. Which always worries me it will throw people out of the characterizations I'm using.

I think it's really interesting that 3 yo Sam is repeating this without even really knowing what he's saying. Especially since the reader knows that the SPN story really IS all about Sam.

One of the more important aspects of this story for me is the idea that the "it's all about Sammy" thing is actually a Dean construct, not a John one. Because I don't believe for a moment, and never have, that John loves Sammy more than Dean. If anything, I think the opposite is true. Although truthfully, I think John very much loves his sons the way my mother once explained to me that she loved me and my siblings: when you have more kids, your love just multiplies that much, so you always love every kid you have with everything you've got, you just get more love to give them every time you've got another kid.

Which I always thought was a really cool way of looking at it. Esecially since my sister was Dean for my mom, and I was Sam (in terms of my sister being a clone of her, and me totally being my dad).

"You like me," Dean said from the doorway. "I’m Dean," he said
Love that confidence...so indicative of who adult Dean turns out to be.


LOL. I'm glad this rang in character rather than too far. I was trying to capture the notion that our confident Dean was hiding inside this child, mostly because John has protected it from everything that could have destroyed it.

And that John is actually the opposite of what Mrs. Jessup thought he would be: someone who convinced his child that nothing about him mattered. To the contrary, John convinced Dean that he was so unique and special that everyone would love him merely because he is Dean. Which is a father aspect I see reflected in both Sam and Dean ... part of why I consider John to be the good father I do. Cause the boys he raised, even in those circumstances, have no doubt of their own worth, and no doubt they are loved by him. That's a dad, in my book.

Thanks for the feedback!


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arabella_hope
arabella_hope
not creepy, just a person w eyes
Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006 12:21 am (UTC)

It took me quite awhile to finish this because I had to continually stop and flail and squeal at the cute and the heartbreaking. This is SO well written, and I love that it's from the teacher's point of view, how that provides the opportunity to uncover things that we already know about the Winchesters but see them fresh. I can NOT tell you how much I love this. Meming and recing, for sure.


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dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006 05:26 am (UTC)

Thanks so much! I love rec'cing, so most excellent. I appreciate it.

For some reason, especially when looking at the boys in school, I've found seeing them through the eyes of others to be an appealing way to tell their story. Certainly, it doesn't work for all stories, but it semes to be my squee of the moment, especially since I seem to have been spiderweb snared into the subject of the boys in school.


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cawthorne
cawthorne
cawthorne
Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006 12:39 am (UTC)

Aww, I do love the way you write John. Big flawed/tragic/loving teddy bear... with guns. ;) This was really nice.


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dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006 05:27 am (UTC)

ROTFLMFAO!!!! This is the absolute best description of John I have ever heard. I love it. And totally agree with it.


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monkiedude
monkiedude
monkie, dude!
Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006 12:46 am (UTC)

Oh, how lovely! I like the glimpse at how they all were in that time between Mary's death and before the boys could conceivably be left alone. I would not at all be surprised that Papa was that focused on his sons.

Thank you so much for participating in the challenge, and for giving us such an awesome story.


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dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006 05:28 am (UTC)

This was a great challenge. Thanks so much for putting it together. Is the comm going to continue on with other challenges after Sept 5th, just keeping all the subject matter as pre-series? I hope so. So many stories to tell about the boys, and the luxury of having this many prompts to choose from was great.


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dolimir_k
Dolimir
Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006 12:57 am (UTC)

I love your John!

Sweet story!


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dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006 05:29 am (UTC)

Thanks so much. I admit to loving John just a little, too. I know it doesn't show much, but I do. :D


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jediprincessdsv
jediprincessdsv
JediPrincessDSV
Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006 01:24 am (UTC)

*flail*

Holy. Crap. This was *awesome*. I'm sorry I can't be more verbose than this right now, but you just totally blew me away here. I LOVE your John. And how precious is little Sammy? Excellent, excellent, excellent.
*gets out her trusty teacher stash of stickers* You get the gold star.


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dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006 05:31 am (UTC)

I got a gold star! I got a gold star! Bet Dean's jealous. :D

Thanks so much. I'm glad you liked it. John in daddy mode hits me where I live. And I tend to see him in daddy mode when others are seeing him in kill-hunt-destroy mode, so I kinda love him most of the time.

And BTW? Love that you use the word verbose. I have no idea why, but that is one of my favorite words. That and moot. And Jensen. But I understand the last one. I think it has something to do with John ...

;)


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clex_monkie89
clex_monkie89
BEWARE OF JENMAR.
Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006 01:28 am (UTC)

I feel the need to tell you that this may be one of my favorite fics ever. You just nail the Winchesters perfectly and I want to hug them all.

And I love that John knows his methods are short-sighted. This is John as he should be, he knows he's making mistakes but if it helps his boys right now that's all that matters. He may do the wrong things but he does them for the right reasons.

I love the way you write and I love the way you write John even more.


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dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006 05:35 am (UTC)

I feel the need to tell you that this may be one of my favorite fics ever.

That is the most excellent compliment!!! There are so many great stories flying around this fandom that I can't think of anything more cool that to be in the company of those on the top of your list.

And I love that John knows his methods are short-sighted. This is John as he should be, he knows he's making mistakes but if it helps his boys right now that's all that matters. He may do the wrong things but he does them for the right reasons.

This is the essence of everything I see in John that so many other SPN fans don't seem to. I see him as a man who made some enormous mistakes and some really poor choices. But always for the right reasons, and never because he just didn't think about there being other options available to him. And never, ever, ever because he wasn't a good enough dad to put what his children needed first.

Thanks!


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weesta
weesta
Weesta
Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006 01:32 am (UTC)

That was totally sweet! I loved seeing the Winchesters through the eyes of Dean's teacher. John's reasons for coming to speak with her were heartbreaking. Oh, that broken boy! I loved that Dean was so animated with John and Sam in a way the teacher never saw before. Great conversation with John and Ms. Jessup when the boys were out of the room. The last line was a killer! Great fic!


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dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006 05:38 am (UTC)

Thanks! It was fun letting John be all Mr. Nice Dad in front of the boys, then go to Mr. I've Got a Bone to Pick with You Dad when they were gone, only to find out he is really Mr. I'm Totally Out of My Depth Here Dad and Mr. Teachers Kinda Intimidate Me Dad when it gets right down to the heart of it.

And flirting with the teacher. Like father like son, I guess. :D


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eloise_bright
eloise_bright
Eloise
Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006 02:01 am (UTC)

I do love this. And I wholeheartedly wish for it to be true. In John's head he's maybe this guy. He wishes he was this guy. But I don't see him opening up to an outsider that way he does with the teacher..

That in no way detracts from my utter love of this story. The sheer joy of Dean telling his Dad about his classroom, the bounciness that is wee Sam, it's all gorgeous. And breaks my heart, because if this is true, Dean's headed down a road of self abnegation that's going to get him killed..

*hugs fic tightly*


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dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006 05:51 am (UTC)

In John's head he's maybe this guy. He wishes he was this guy.

So interesting that you say this. Because until I found myself writing this into this particular fic, I wasn't sure he'd ever actually articulated his reasoning on the "make Dean Sammy's protector" choice. I've long thought this might well be why he made the choices he did, but I never really knew if he made them consciously, or subconsciously; and if the former, if he'd ever articulated them out to someone, or if they were just his own internal reasons for making the choices he did and no one but him would ever know them.

So inside his head he's this guy? Yeah, I can see that.

But I don't see him opening up to an outsider that way he does with the teacher..

Always a sticky wicket on where this line is, between divulge and hide. I often play it as existing in very different places for John, depending on the needs of the fic and the way I am viewing John on any given Sunday.

In the context of this story, I was looking at it more as the boys being young enough that hunting injuries likely wouldn't be a concern, so the pressure to be so secretive to avoid the possibility of DCS intervention wouldn't be so intense.

Given that, and working on the notion that John needs for the teachers who deal with Dean to not screw Dean up in the ways he is trying to reclaim Dean from the psychological trauma of his mother's murder (a concept I think I take FAR more seriously than most fans do, considering the traum of Mary's murder -- and mode of murder -- to be far great for Dean even than for John ... and something that likely would have crushed Dean psychologically if John hadn't made some pretty smart, intuitive moves to counter program against it), I could see John being divulging of some aspects of his relationship with his boys to the end of convincing a teacher Dean looked up to and was getting help from that the way he was playing it was the way she should play it, too.

Two of the aspects I took into greatest consideration were

1) That Dean avoided everything that reminded him of Mary after her murder, but this teacher had him taking up books to read them to Sammy ... something so huge in John's eyes that he would need this teacher on his side in the war for Dean's psych because she obviously already weilds great influence over him, consider she's broken down barriers he hasn't been able to breach in 3 years and she's only had him for 3 months.

and

2)That John never once confided anything to Mrs. Jessup that even smacked of the supernatural. He was speaking to her as the father of a son whose mother had been murdered. He was very careful to avoid any kind of address to the mode of Mary's murder, or how that aspect of Dean's trauma might play into some of the choices he has made. Rather, he addresses her within the context of everything being Mary was murdered and Dean saved Sam; not Mary was murdered by a Demon and Dean saved Sam from that Demon. Which, in my mind, makes a difference in how direct and/or divulging John would be willing to be with a teacher. Where he might never mention anything about the Demon, he might solicit her to his side of this very important war by invoking her compasion for Dean's loss, if not the mode of how Dean lost what he lost.

But then I could be justifying, too. :D

That in no way detracts from my utter love of this story. The sheer joy of Dean telling his Dad about his classroom, the bounciness that is wee Sam, it's all gorgeous. And breaks my heart, because if this is true, Dean's headed down a road of self abnegation that's going to get him killed.

Edit to read: that's going to get him thrown into many walls and bled upon many floors and crunched to crunchies in his beloved Impala (is that his Imzadi Impala? Sorry, Trek joke), but NOT killed. It will NOT get him killed. Right?

Right?

Right?

;)


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bodgei
bodgei
bodgei
Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006 02:09 am (UTC)

Ok I picked out my three "Wow" moments...

He smiled slowly, relaxing visibly in the way he was standing. "I see why Dean likes you," he said after a beat. "And yes, that would make it much easier. My son is in a unique position. He’s lost far more than any child should ever lose, and pretty much the sum total of what he’s got left is Sammy. So telling him anything concerning Sammy can be done better without his participation is … it isn’t something I can afford to have him told. He’s very vulnerable there. He needs to feel like Sammy needs him. He needs to not be told that isn’t true."


"So I gave him Sammy back. I’m sure you wouldn’t approve of how I did it – not many people would – but I couldn’t think of any other way to reach him. My son was drowning, and I couldn’t just sit there and watch him go under. He needed something to hold on to, so I gave him Sammy.


"You like me," Dean said from the doorway.

She looked at him, arching her eyebrows. "Whatever would make you think that?"

He didn’t duck his head this time, didn’t look away from her like he wasn’t sure he should meet her eyes. "I’m Dean," he said, smiling in a way that reminded her very much of his father.


Also I just have to say your little Sammy was exactly like I was when I was that age (just made me want to smush him)


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dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006 05:54 am (UTC)

Thanks so much! So cool that you picked out the moments that worked best for you. I love that kind of feedback. Thanks!

(And if you were just like little Sammy when you were that age, I would have babysat you for free. And maybe kidnapped you, too.)


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lady_octavia
lady_octavia
Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006 02:22 am (UTC)

If he was lucky, he might just grow up to be his dad. I was thinking of all the things I could comment on as I read and then got to this and what more can I say!!!!

You write amazing John/young!Dean fics - if possible you make me love John more than I already did and I just want to hug and take care of Dean!!

I can so see a teacher trying to help Dean and making everything worse -what a crushing thing to say to Dean, that Papa could take better care of Sammy without him!!! I wanted to hurt her for that!!

This was beautiful.


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dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006 05:56 am (UTC)

Thanks!

if possible you make me love John more than I already did

This is the absolute best outcome I could hope for.

I can so see a teacher trying to help Dean and making everything worse -what a crushing thing to say to Dean, that Papa could take better care of Sammy without him!!! I wanted to hurt her for that!!

There's a great Deadwood line for that: I've seen more damage done by them looking to justify themselves than by them meaning to do harm.

So true.

This was beautiful.

Thanks!


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dotfic
dotfic
getting the chocolate in the peanut butter
Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006 02:51 am (UTC)

It was my prompt :) And yeah, I was being just a tad ascerbic with it but also it was simply intended as a challenge: to portray John being a Dad doing a normal Dad-thing (because something normal like parent-teacher night+John just made me curious). This was perfect. (And I do love him too. Honest. He just...argh...makes me want to get the clue bat sometimes.)

The only thing that has worked, the only thing that gives him what he needs to survive is some sense of purpose. Some sense that he’s needed. Sammy gives him that.

That's such a heartbreaking and I think accurate take.

He didn’t duck his head this time, didn’t look away from her like he wasn’t sure he should meet her eyes. "I’m Dean," he said, smiling in a way that reminded her very much of his father.

Hee! Aw, wee!Dean.

I loved your little!Sam too, very believable.


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dodger_winslow
dodger_winslow
I'd Sell My Soul for a Blunt Instrument ...
Sun, Aug. 6th, 2006 06:04 am (UTC)

It was my prompt :) And yeah, I was being just a tad ascerbic with it but also it was simply intended as a challenge: to portray John being a Dad doing a normal Dad-thing

I loved the prompt. And the way you chose to state it did challenge me ... enough so that I couldn't walk away from it and get back to work on Part 4 of Season, but rather, had to write this instead. Which makes it all your fault, right? LOL

But seriously, the way it was stated kept poking at me with a sharp stick because it kept making me think, "Now why would everyone assume that John wouldn't show up for school stuff if he knew about it ahead of time?" I mean, if a hunt ran overtime or something, yeah; but it's not like hunts come up at the last second or anything ... but yet, so many fans seem to assume that John missed all of Dean and Sam's school events. And I don't really see that, especially not when they were younger. That seems more like the actions of a drunk, or a work aholic ... neither of which I took John to be at this stage in th boy's lives. So I had to write something to address that, which is how this story ended up coming off your prompt.

Which is a good thing, yes? (Besides which, I can't take a prompt the way anyone else would. It's against my religion. You HAVE seen my firsts chart, yes? *lol*)

(because something normal like parent-teacher night+John just made me curious).

I LOVE the idea of seeing how the Winchesters would do normal dad stuff. I find it fascinating as well, and it was a sweeeeeeet change of pace to not have any monsters involved. No ghost teachers either. Or suicidal drunks. ;)

He just...argh...makes me want to get the clue bat sometimes.)

ROTFLMFAO!!! Clue bat. I love it.

Thanks for the feedback! (And for the ascerbic prompt.)


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